By Sara Lehn
In ten short years as an educator, I have taught every grade from sixth through twelfth, and every level of ability from AP to self-contained special ed. I say this not to impress you with how many different preps I have tackled in ten years, but to highlight this fact: I teach Shakespeare to every single one. Some groups read excerpts while others do whole plays, but I have an unwavering belief that anybody can learn Shakespeare with the right tools and framework.
To illustrate this idea, let’s talk about crayons.
Everybody loves crayons.
Present an eighteen-year-old with a box of crayons and you will see his eyes light up.
“Is this a ‘Fun-Friday’ activity?” students ask, regardless of the actual day of the week.
“Yes,” I say. I have no idea where ‘Fun-Friday’ comes from, but students say it as if it’s a title for something. I assume that this was a routine presented by a fuzzily but fondly remembered elementary school teacher.
Suddenly my over-stressed seniors are distracted from their impending college applications and a buzz develops. Crayons. She brought crayons.
Or markers. Or colored pencils. Or… whatever.
As children, before we learn to write, we are given crayons as a tool to express our thoughts. Something about coloring throws us back to the simplicity and contentment of early childhood. Students get nervous that I will grade their artistic abilities, so I demonstrate for them my own lack of skill. Stick figures are encouraged. Laughter ensues; everyone relaxes.